Super Bowl News & Notes

Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren has made a conscious effort to enjoy the moment more than he did following past victories in the NFC Championship Game. The success means more to him after enduring some tough years in Seattle and an eight-year gap between NFC titles.

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SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
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"It's been very special," Holmgren said. "When you go through it and there's a little bit of a lapse between the next one, you think about, 'I didn't think about or enjoy enough the last time I did this, so if ever given the chance again, I'm going to soak it in a little more."

Holmgren took Green Bay to the Super Bowl following the 1996 and 1997 seasons. He left for Seattle in 1999 and instantly won an AFC West title with a 9-7 record. The Seahawks dipped to 6-10 the following season, however, and Holmgren did not return to the playoffs until after the 2003 season.

The Seahawks have qualified for the playoffs in three consecutive seasons, a franchise record. They ended a 21-year playoff-victory drought earlier this month by beating the Washington Redskins in the divisional round. The team followed that 20-10 victory with a 34-14 pounding of Carolina in the NFC title game.

"It's been nice," Holmgren said. "I've enjoyed this. I've reflected more this time on where we are. Now we still have another game to play, but that was pretty neat (Sunday) night, standing up there and seeing the stadium still full. I felt good about that."

Seattle's players aren't so familiar with the struggles of a franchise that never played a playoff game in the 1990s. But the players did seem to grasp the enormity of their achievement.

"It was kind of refreshing," Holmgren said. "I'm on the (postgame) stage with Shaun (Alexander) and I said, 'This is pretty good, huh?'

"And he said, 'I just want to soak it in'. Here is the MVP of the league and I thought it was a very natural, very honest reaction to what was happening. It was unbelievable."

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Matt Hasselbeck is playing the best football of his career. Like Brett Favre before him, Hasselbeck is playing in his first Super Bowl after his fifth season with coach Mike Holmgren. He has two Pro Bowls on his resume and five more years on his contract. Hasselbeck turned 30 in September.

--QB Seneca Wallace could continue to moonlight as a receiver, but coach Mike Holmgren isn't comfortable exposing his No. 2 quarterback to injury on a routine basis. The team had planned to utilize Wallace more in the offense this season, but those plans changed when QB Trent Dilfer sought a trade and the Seahawks failed to sign a veteran replacement. "(Wallace) has been a loyal soldier, and just a great young man," Holmgren said. "He'll do what we ask him to do, but he really is a good enough football player to be on the field playing. I just can't afford to lose him with an injury as a backup quarterback."

--RB Shaun Alexander said the Seahawks don't care about being an underdog to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl. "We don't care if people pick us to win or don't pick us to win," he said. "We have a group of guys that just go out there and try and make plays and help our team win every week." Alexander is coming off a 132-yard game against Carolina in the NFC title game. He said that game was important because circumstances had prevented him from playing a full game for about a month.

--FB Mack Strong has held up well physically this season despite turning 34 in September. Injuries seemed to nag at Strong in recent seasons. He hasn't been shown signs of wearing down this season despite suffering the usual bumps and bruises.

--WR Darrell Jackson is proving to be reliable in big-game situations. He has 15 catches for 218 yards and two touchdowns in two playoff games this month. Injuries have taken a toll on Jackson this season but he has played through them effectively down the stretch. He could continue to miss practice time to rest various ailments.

--WR Bobby Engram will miss practice time this week with a hip injury suffered in the NFC title game. Injuries have caught up to Engram this season. He turned 33 this month. The team expects him to be ready for the Super Bowl.

--WR Joe Jurevicius has caught only two passes for 37 yards in the playoffs mostly because Seattle has gone to WR Darrell Jackson instead. Jackson has come up big in the playoffs. Jurevicius has proven valuable when called upon. At this point the issue seems to be whether the Seahawks call his number.

--TE Jerramy Stevens has eight catches for 79 yards and a touchdown in two playoff games this month. He can be a focal point of the offense depending on how teams choose to defend the Seahawks.

--K Josh Brown hit field-goal attempts of 24 and 39 yards in the NFC title game. He came up short on a 49-yard attempt. Brown has plenty of leg. He once made a 48-yarder at Green Bay. It's the heavy air at Qwest Field that can make conditions tough on the longer kicks.

--MLB Lofa Tatupu is clearly the best player on the Seattle defense. He is single-handedly making Tim Ruskell's first Seattle draft class a success. Tatupu is plenty tough, too. He played the final three quarters of the NFC title game with a concussion. On Wednesday, it was announced that Tatupu would be going to the Pro Bowl. Originally named an alternate, his stock rose when he replaced Chicago's Brian Urlacher on the Pro Bowl roster.

--C Robbie Tobeck will also travel to Honululu, adding to Seattle's seven total Pro Bowl representatives. Tobeck will go in place of Chicago's Olin Kreutz.

--DE Bryce Fisher had only one tackle against Carolina in the NFC title game, but the Seahawks' front four did a fantastic job pressuring Panthers QB Jake Delhomme. Fisher's status probably suffered because Seattle's offense was on the field for nearly 42 minutes.

--LB Leroy Hill had a team-leading six tackles in the NFC title game against Carolina. MLB Lofa Tatupu rightfully gets most of the attention, but Hill is turning into a great player. He has outstanding speed and pass-rush ability.


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PITTSBURGH STEELERS
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The Steelers have chosen to stick with their white road jerseys in the Super Bowl even though they're the "home" team in Detroit and they always wear black in Heinz Field.

"We aren't playing at Heinz Field," coach Bill Cowher said.

Yet they chose black when they last played in the Super Bowl 10 years ago in Arizona and were the home team. There's obviously some superstition at play here because the Steelers wore white when they won all three of their playoff games on the road, only the second NFL team ever to do that.

The Steelers players have off until Thursday. They will practice three days, take off Sunday and fly to Detroit on Monday. Ten years after he made his only previous visit to the Super Bowl, Cowher said he has learned some things. He has also talked to other coaches who have been to Super Bowls recently to see how things might have changed.

The Steelers lost by 10 to Dallas in Super Bowl XXX and Cowher was perturbed that a few players, most notably linebacker Kevin Greene, used their day off on Tuesday to fly from Phoenix to Las Vegas, where Greene participated in a pro wrestling event.

"You can enjoy the process," Cowher said Monday, "but you can't lose sight of the goal."

The Steelers placed rookie linebacker Andre Frazier on injured reserve this week and signed rookie linebacker Arnold Harrison to take his place. Frazier has a broken ankle from Sunday's game in Denver. But James Harrison, whom Frazier replaced as the No. 3 on the outside, will return after missing the past two playoff games with a high ankle sprain. Backup defensive end Travis Kirschke has a groin injury that Cowher said would make him questionable if there were a game this week.

The Steelers are favored by four points, but Cowher tried on Tuesday to keep downplaying his team, something that has helped fuel them since they were 7-5 and needed seven straight victories to reach the Super Bowl.

"We're not suddenly this great team," Cowher said. "We aren't. We've done nothing, nothing at all."

All the Steelers have done, he said, is created a "golden opportunity" for themselves. He reiterated Tuesday that no one remembers the loser of the Super Bowl.

PLAYER NOTES

-- QB Ben Roethlisberger, who turns 24 on March 2, is the second-youngest quarterback to appear in a Super Bowl (after Dan Marino) and would be the youngest to win it.

-- QB Charlie Batch is one injury from playing in Detroit, where he was drafted by the Lions and was their starter from 1998 through 2001.

-- WR Hines Ward leads the Steelers in three postseason games with 10 receptions, which have gone for 137 yards -- numbers he has topped in three individual games in his career -- and two touchdowns.

-- WR Antwaan Randle El has nine catches for 97 yards and one touchdown, one run from scrimmage, one incomplete pass and eight punt returns in the playoffs.

-- WR Cedrick Wilson is fourth on the club in the playoffs with eight catches but leads with 196 yards, a 24.5-yard average. His two touchdowns tie Ward for the team receiving lead.

-- TE Heath Miller has 7 receptions for 107 yards. That ties Eric Green for the most receptions by a tight end in a single post-season for Pittsburgh (1994) and ties Randy Grossman for the most yards (1978).

-- RB Willie Parker had runs of 10 and 14 yards in Denver but he's averaging only 2.8 yards a carry and has no touchdowns.

-- RB Jerome Bettis leads the Steelers post-season with three touchdowns, all rushing. Those are his first three career post-season scores.

-- RB Verron Haynes still serves as the Steelers third-down back but he goes virtually unnoticed. He's caught just three passes in three playoff games for 22 yards and has only five runs from scrimmage.

-- LB Larry Foote, who led the team in tackles in the regular season, is tied for the lead in the postseason with safety Troy Polamalu. Each has 19.

-- LB Joey Porter leads the team with three sacks to go with a forced fumble in the post-season. Porter led all NFL linebackers with 10.5 sacks in the regular season.

-- P Chris Gardocki has also stepped it up in the playoffs. Of his 12 punts, six have gone inside the 20.


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